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Coleman’s article about the history and activities of Anonymous was very interesting to me, as I am someone who didn’t know about the formation/activities of Anonymous until the Steubenville case.  I was especially intrigued by the associations of Anonymous (or the trouble with the associations of Anonymous) with “social bandits”

“Anonymous’s willingness to wreak havoc in pursuit of lulz, but also in defense of free speech and in opposition to the malfeasances and deceptions of Scientology, calls to mind the nineteenth-century European “social bandits” described by historian Eric Hobsbawm in his 1959 book Primitive Rebels. These bandits are members of mafias, secret societies, religious sects, urban mobs, and outlaw gangs; they are ultimately thugs, but, according to Hobsbawn, they nurture a faintly revolutionary spirit: Often when they plunder they also redistribute goods to the poor, or offer them protection against other bandits.”

I especially liked the last line and its reference to Robin Hood (“robbing from the rich and giving to the poor”) because, I must admit, when I first heard about Anonymous in relation to the Steubenville case, I was completely taken by the idea of Anonymous. I was thrilled at the idea that there was this subversive, justice-seeking vigilante outlaw gang without super hi-tech gadgetry, receiving no help from any corporation or government, who seemed to be kicking ass and taking names (and then exposing them, along with phone numbers and social security numbers and credit card information) without mercy.  The sense of humor and trickstery that Anonymous seemingly embodied made them even more likeable.  They seemed so confident, so able.

Anyway, now having read this article, I am increasingly interested in the image that Anonymous has made for itself, intentionally and unintentionally, and how this image affects their operations.  Also, could there be any other image?  Is there something innate in their actions that creates this vigilante, trickstery image, with or without the inclusion of a Guy Fawkes mask? With or without the tone of their manifestoes (“Expect us.” “You’ve angered the hive”)?  What would change if Anonymous took up a project to troll another Jessi Slaughter?  Is there any turning back?